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Lithuanian and Israeli Presidents Commemorate Victims at Paneriai Memorial


On 1 August Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė together with President Shimon Peres of Israel, who is currently on a state visit to Lithuania, honored the memory of the victims of the Holocaust at the Paneriai Memorial.

The Paneriai Memorial is located in the Paneriai forest near Vilnius.  It is also known as the Valley of Slaughter after the Paneriai massacre of 1941-1944, when approximately 100,000 Jews, Roma and Sinti, members of the Polish intelligentsia, and Soviet prisoners were murdered.  Around 70,000 of the victims were Jews, who had been brought to the Paneriai forest to be killed following the liquidation of the Vilnius Ghetto.

After the official addresses to the large crowd, which included Holocaust survivors and leading figures from the Jewish community, President Grybauskaitė and President Peres stopped at the edge of the pit into which the dead had fallen after being shot.  President Peres recited Kaddish in memory of the victims and both Presidents placed stones on the site as a mark of respect.

President Grybauskaitė and President Peres also visited the Tolerance Center of the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum. In the Tolerance Center, which opened more than ten years ago, the Presidents viewed an exposition of the cultural heritage and contemporary art of Lithuanian Jews and were introduced to the educational activities of the Center.  These include various educational programs, conferences and cultural events revealing the values of historic truth, freedom of thought and human rights, as well as respect for other cultures and traditions.

Read President Dalia Grybauskaitė’s speech at the ceremony.